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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Orthodontics






What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program following dental school, to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.

What are the possible benefits of orthodontic treatment?

  • A more attractive smile
  • Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Increase in self-confidence
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long term health of teeth and gums
  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
  • Aid in optimizing other dental treatment

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

  • Upper-front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked
  • Upper-front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper-front teeth are behind or inside the lower-front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper- and lower-front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger- or thumb-sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age seven or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist or the child’s physician.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.

Is there an age limit to orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Twenty to twenty-five percent of orthodontic patients today are adults.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces or clear aligners use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouthguard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouthguards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups or more often if recommended by the orthodontist.


Invisalign FAQ’s

Q. How often must I wear my aligners?

A. You must wear your aligners for up to 22 hours daily. You may remove them for eating, drinking and regular oral hygiene.

Q. Are there any restrictions to what I can eat while in treatment?

A. No. Unlike braces, you may eat whatever you like as long as you remove the aligners before eating. Prior to placing the aligners back on, it is important to brush your teeth and the aligners after you eat.

Q. Will wearing the aligners affect my speech?

A. Like any orthodontic treatment, there is a short adjustment period. The more you speak with the aligners on, the quicker you will adjust.

Q. Is there any discomfort with Invisalign® treatment?

A. There will be some pressure and minor discomfort for a day or two after each initial insertion. This is a sign that your teeth are moving sequentially into their final position.

Q. Can I chew gum?

A. It is recommended that you remove your aligners prior to chewing gum as the gum will stick to the aligners.

Q. Can I smoke with the aligners in?

A. We discourage smoking with aligners as the cigarette smoke will tend to discolor them.

Q. How do I keep my aligners clean?

A. Brushing them with toothpaste will keep them fresh and clean.

Q. How often do I see an orthodontist while wearing Invisalign®?

A. Regular office visits are every five to six weeks. This will ensure that your Invisalign treatment is progressing as planned.

Q. What happens after my treatment is complete? Do I need retainers?

A. All orthodontic patients are instructed to wear their retainers at night indefinitely. Sleeping with your retainers in at night will ensure a healthy bite and maintain the new position of your teeth.

Q. How long does Invisalign treatment take?

A. Treatment time varies depending on the severity of the misaligned teeth. Treatment time can be shorter than traditional braces, between six and 18 months.

Q. Does Invisalign work for kids?

A. Yes, if their teeth, including second molars, have grown in completely.